University of Rochester

EVENT: Community-wide Conference Explores Restorative Justice

September 17, 2010

WHO: Members of the Greater Rochester community will explore how the city's schools, courts, and communities can use restorative justice practices as an alternative to the judicial system.

TIME, DATE, PLACE: 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18, at Rochester City Hall (121 North Fitzhugh Street).

WHAT: This week, a series of events called Restorative Rochester included workshops, lectures, and practice sessions led by restorative circles pioneer Dominic Barter, who shared how these techniques can be used in schools and municipalities.

At Saturday's City Hall conference, community members will take what Barter has taught them and brainstorm together how best to bring restorative practices to Rochester. The event will include presentations by area restorative practice organizations and remarks by local leaders.

Restorative Rochester is sponsored by the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at the University of Rochester and several other local organizations.

ABOUT RESTORATIVE JUSTICE: This innovative practice, which relies on restorative circles to repair the harm created by a crime or conflict, was recently praised by the UK National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts as "radically effective." In their report, they noted that the Campinas Municipal School District in Brazil saw the number of student arrests drop by 98 percent after implementing restorative circles in their schools. In 2008, 71 police visits resulted in arrests, in 2009, only one police visit ended in an arrest.

The system's strength lays its grassroots nature; volunteer community members agree to use restorative justice in the prevention and response to conflict. The chief goal of the system is to help all involved understand why a person may have caused harm. For those living in poverty, the choice between taking care of themselves at someone else's expense often seems like necessity. In a restorative circle, the outcome often creates a concrete action that demonstrates taking care of oneself and others does not have to be mutually exclusive.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: For more information about the conference, e-mail Melissa Greco Lopes at or call 585.260.6666.